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Letter to the editor: Keep prayer private

Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 12:01 am

In your recent editorial on public prayer you stated, “Some people are offended by the prayers. But it is also true that no one is harmed by them.” I disagree.

The continuation of public prayer in government meetings promulgates public acceptance of beliefs to which some are opposed. Let’s suppose you are opposed to abortion but each public meeting is preceded by a short speech on why it is beneficial. Would you object? I think so.

The best place for religion is in your private life. Madison and Jefferson ensured that we can worship as we please; they did not say it should be part of public government meetings, and Madison, the primary author of our Constitution, was specifically opposed to it.

In Elizabethan England, the entire populace was required to attend church. We claim to have progressed, but have we? Why should anyone be required to listen to a prayer in which he/she does not believe?

Cal Thomas recently said, “Indeed, Jesus commanded His followers: ‘But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’” (Matthew 6:6). Further, he said, “If individual members ... wish to pray silently to their God before their meetings, no law or court decision prohibits them from doing so. Why would God be more impressed and more likely to respond to a public prayer than to a private one?”

Why do Christians need someone to grandstand in front of a government meeting? At most a moment of silence should be provided so that people can pray, or not, as they choose.

By the way, you blinked: When you said that no one is harmed by public prayer, you neglected to say that public prayer has not been proved to be of any benefit either. Afraid of a little backlash?

This disagreement is much more than “symbolic.”

W. Brian Harris

Roanoke